You know the old adage, “No pain, no gain”?
Forget it, especially if you have osteoarthritis. Opt for a slow, steady and consistent approach to exercise instead.
There is no reason for pain. Exercise is a lifestyle, not something you are going to do for just right now. Why would I do something forever that is going to hurt forever?
In osteoarthritis, the protective cartilage between bones wears down, leading to joint inflammation and pain. Continued exercise is important because stronger muscles take the pressure off the bones.
Typically, you can slow the process (of osteoarthritis) by keeping moving.
Try these tips for avoiding pain while exercising, especially when your joints already hurt.
- Work with a professional to figure out what exercises you can pursue and at what intensity.Talk to a physical therapist, a certified personal trainer, or another exercise expert who can help you build a regimen that makes sense for you. Jogging and jumping rope is usually out for people with osteoarthritis, but a low-impact activity such as swimming is excellent. “You are working every muscle in your body. You are kicking your legs, you’re swinging your arms, your heart is pumping. But all the while, water relieves pressure on the joints.Other helpful exercises might include walking, yoga, Pilates, or riding a recumbent bike.
- Start off slowly but incorporate the three key components of exercise into your routine: cardiovascular work, strength building, and flexibility. Look to fitness centers that offer classes designed for people with osteoarthritis. Those will take into account the physical limitations of the condition. Or consider a class for older participants. If you are not interested in a class, get dumbbells, and do curls in front of the TV. Do leg extensions. Go for a walk.
- Stretch before getting out of bed. Take five minutes before you ever get out of bed to stretch.Bring your knees to your chest. Extend your legs. Reach over your head. If you are lying flat, raise your legs to the ceiling.These simple movements lengthen muscles that have contracted a bit while at rest. It basically stretches your body out to normal length and allows you to stand erect.
- Don’t be a negative Nellie. People often underestimate what they can do. We can always do more than what we think we can, but we’re afraid it’s going to hurt. And that helps people live the way they want to live: playing with grandchildren, being active and staying out of a wheelchair.